French crooner Charles Aznavour taps Cuban rhythms
Aznavour teamed up with Latin jazz piano virtuoso Chucho Valdes to record 11 songs, Aznavour said on Tuesday before heading home after eight days in a Havana studio.
His new offerings include songs about environmental degradation and last year's race riots in France.
"To have Cuban music with such lyrics will draw us closer to the public. It's not a question of selling records but of conveying ideas to people, not political but important human ideas," he said at a news conference.
It is not Aznavour's first encounter with Cuban musicians. In 1999, he recorded the song "Morir de amor" (Dying of Love) with the late Compay Segundo of Buena Vista Social Club fame.
"That was a marvelous experience. Between smiles, cigars and music we managed a duet," said the blazer-clad singer.
Born in Paris of Armenian immigrants, the raspy-voiced Aznavour was discovered by Edith Piaf in the 1940s. His breakthrough in America was not on the stage but on the screen in Francois Truffaut's 1960 film, "Shoot the piano Player."
Ray Charles, Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby sang songs written by Aznavour.
"Songs are a powerful weapon. Important statements disappear from the newspaper the next day, but songs remain. They penetrate walls and keep important ideas alive in the human spirit," he said.
Aznavour's new record, scheduled for release by EMI early next year, was recorded in Havana's Abdala studio with Chucho Valdes and musicians from his Iraquere band.